(1) Boca Ciega Bay, in Pinellas County, as hereinafter described, is designated and established as an aquatic preserve under the provisions of this section. It is the intent of the Legislature that Boca Ciega Bay be preserved, insofar as possible, in an essentially natural condition so that its biological and aesthetic values may endure for the enjoyment of future generations.
(2)(a) For the purposes of this section, Boca Ciega Bay, sometimes referred to in this section as “the preserve,” shall be comprised of that body of water in Pinellas County which lies south of the State Road 688 bridge at, or near, Indian Rocks Beach and within the area enclosed by a line as follows: Beginning at a point where the east end of said bridge crosses the western shoreline of mainland Pinellas County and extending in a generally southerly direction along the western shoreline of mainland Pinellas County to the west end of the Seminole Bridge following the bridge easterly to exclude Long Bayou and Cross Bayou, thence in a southerly direction including the western shoreline of the Sunshine Skyway Causeway and extending to the southern boundary of Pinellas County, thence westerly along the Pinellas County line and around Mullet Key along a line 100 yards seaward of the shoreline of Mullet Key and northerly along a line passing 100 yards to the west of the shorelines of Summer Resort Key, Cabbage Key and Shell Key to the southernmost point of Long Key, thence in a generally northerly direction along the inner shoreline of Long Key, Treasure Island and Sand Key to a point where the west end of the State Road 688 bridge crosses the inner shoreline of Sand Key, thence easterly along the south side of said bridge to the point of beginning. The boundary of the preserve designated as the shoreline shall mean the line of mean high water along such shoreline.
(b) The preserve established by this section shall include the submerged bottom lands, the water column upon such lands, and the islands owned by the state within the boundaries of the preserve. Any privately held land or submerged land within the established bulkhead lines or privately held islands within the preserve shall be deemed to be excluded therefrom. The Board of Trustees of the Internal Improvement Trust Fund may negotiate an arrangement with any such private owner whereby such lands or water bottoms may be included within the preserve.
(3) The Board of Trustees of the Internal Improvement Trust Fund are hereby directed to maintain Boca Ciega Bay as an aquatic preserve subject to the following provisions:
(a) No further sale, transfer, or lease of sovereignty submerged lands within the preserve shall be approved or consummated by the board of trustees unless such sale, transfer, or lease is in the public interest.
(b) No further dredging or filling of submerged lands within the preserve shall be approved or tolerated by the board of trustees except:
1. Such minimum dredging and spoiling as may be authorized for public navigation projects;
2. Such other alteration of physical conditions as may be necessary to enhance the quality or utility of the preserve as determined by the Pinellas County Water and Navigation Control Authority in a public hearing; and
3. Such dredging as is necessary for the purpose of eliminating conditions hazardous to the public health or for the purpose of eliminating stagnant waters, unsightly mud flats, islands, and spoil banks the dredging of which would enhance the aesthetic quality and utility of the preserve and is clearly in the public interest as determined by the Pinellas County Water and Navigation Control Authority in a public hearing.
There shall be no dredging beyond the bulkhead line for the sole purpose of providing fill for upland or submerged land within the bulkhead line. In addition there shall be no drilling of wells, excavation for shell or minerals, and no erection of structures (other than docks) within the preserve, unless such activity is associated with activity authorized by this section.
(c) The board of trustees shall not approve any seaward relocation of bulkhead lines or further establishment of bulkhead lines except when a proposed bulkhead line is located at the line of mean high water along the shoreline.
(4)(a) The board of trustees shall adopt and enforce reasonable rules and regulations to carry out the provisions of this section and specifically to provide:
1. Additional preserve management criteria as may be necessary to accommodate special circumstances; and
2. Regulation of human activity within the preserve in such a manner as not to interfere unreasonably with such lawful and traditional public uses of the preserve as fishing (both sport and commercial), boating, and swimming.
(b) Other uses of the preserve, or human activity within the preserve, although not originally contemplated, may be permitted by the board of trustees, but only subsequent to a formal finding of compatibility with the purposes of this section.
(5) Neither the establishment nor the management of the Boca Ciega Bay Aquatic Preserve shall operate to infringe upon the riparian rights of upland property owners adjacent to or within the preserve. Reasonable improvement for ingress and egress, mosquito control, shore protection, bridges, causeways, and similar purposes may be permitted by the board of trustees, subject to the provisions of any other applicable laws under the jurisdiction of other agencies.
(6) Nothing herein shall be construed to deprive the Pinellas County Water and Navigation Control Authority of its jurisdiction, powers, and duties.